Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was Friday’s fastest participant at the season-opening Yamaha Finance Australian Round, with the Welshman topping the combined FP1 and FP2 timesheets courtesy of a 1’30.189 best time from the morning.
Defending World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) was the second quickest rider on Friday at Phillip Island courtesy of a 1’30.255 lap in FP1 and he was the fastest rider in the later session.
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) put in a good performance to end the day third fastest, also courtesy of his best FP1 effort, a 1’30.486, putting him just ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) – who was fourth and trailed Davies by just under four tenths.
On his return to WorldSBK Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was fifth quickest overall, thanks to his 1’30.627 lap registered in the afternoon outing.
Also going straight through to Tissot Superpole 2 on the opening weekend of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship are Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), Nicky Hayden (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team), who rounded out Friday’s top ten.
Savadori provided the most spectacular moment of the day, surviving a huge wobble at turn 11 in FP1.
The likes of Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), meanwhile, will participate in Tissot Superpole 1 on Saturday having ended Friday 11th and 12th respectively.
Earlier in the day FP1 had been red flagged after less than ten minutes of action after an engine fault for Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) briefly left an oil leak on track, though the action soon got back underway. Camier ended Friday in 13th place on the combined timesheets.
Rookie Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 14th best and ran off track just over 15 minutes before the end of FP2, quickly returning to the asphalt after his excursion onto the grass.
Likewise newcomer Stefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) ran off track at turn 4 at one stage in his first official WorldSBK session in FP1 and the German ended up 16th overall.
Alex De Angelis (Pedercini Racing SC-Project) crashed at turn 11 but walked away from the incident late in the afternoon session and was Friday’s 15th fastest man. Ayrton Badovini (Grillini Racing Team) was also a late crasher in FP2 and concluded Friday in 17th place on the timesheets.
The WorldSBK riders will return to action at 10.20am local time on Saturday morning, with Tissot Superpole 1 at 12.30pm and Tissot Superpole 2 at 12.55pm. Race 1 will get started at 3pm.
The first day of action in the 2017 season concluded with PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) at the head of the combined WorldSSP Friday free practice timesheets, courtesy of a 1’33.087 best lap in FP1.
Jacobsen was over half a second faster than any of his rivals in the earlier session and although he could not improve in the afternoon he still ended the day 0.38s ahead of second quickest rider Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda). Frenchman Cluzel recorded his best time of the day late in FP2.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) completed the top three on the combined timesheets, +0.515s adrift of Jacobsen.
The FP2 session at the Yamaha Finance Australian Round was red flagged with just under 20 minutes remaining, after debris was strewn across the track at turn 3 following a heavy crash for Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team). The Frenchman was soon back on his feet but his Yamaha YZF R6 suffered significant damage in the crash and he ended up fourth overall.
FP1 had also seen Mahias crash at turn 4, though in that case without major consequence.
Roberto Rolfo (Team Factory Vamag) finished fifth fastest after being given the all clear to ride on Friday morning, following a test crash at Phillip Island earlier in the week which saw him suffer a dislocated left shoulder.
Also in the top ten and therefore going automatically into Tissot Superpole 2 on Saturday are Hikari Okubo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25), Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini). They all lapped within a second of Jacobsen’s P1 time.
Stapleford was a high speed crasher in the final minutes of FP2, though the English Triumph rider was immediately back on his feet.
Italian duo Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) and Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) were just outside the top ten in 11th and 12th respectively and will therefore try their luck again in Tissot Superpole 1 on Saturday.
Another high velocity crash with 15 minutes to go saw Matt Edwards (Euro Twins Brisbane) bouncing through the gravel but the Australian wild card rider was able to walk away after the incident. Edwards was taken straight to the Medical Centre for a check-up.
In the absence of defending champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who will miss the opening two rounds of the 2017 championship due to a pre-season hand injury, the riders were able to complete their first official practice sessions of the new season in clear weather conditions.
The WorldSSP riders will be in action again at Phillip Island at 11am local time on Saturday for FP3, with Tissot Superpole 1 at 1.30pm and Tissot Superpole 2 at 1.55pm.
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